Northwestern Press

Thursday, May 28, 2020

The Family Project: Be creative to cope with coronavirus

Saturday, April 11, 2020 by CAROLE GORNEY Special to The Press in Focus

Second of two parts

“The Family Project” panel shares techniques to cope with “stay-at-home” orders for coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

Being creative during social distancing and staying at home was suggested by several panel members.

“There’s something to be said for allowing children time to create, problem-solve and entertain themselves,” panelist Chad Stefanyak said, adding, “You might be surprised with what they come up with.”

Creativity isn’t just for children, though. Panelist Joanne Raftas said, “I think the most important thing that I keep in mind is that, although we have a stay-at-home order that limits us, there is no limit to being creative. And that is the way we get through this.”

As an example, Raftas said that her youngest son has two infant sons. “He has had trouble getting outside with the boys since the playgrounds are closed,” said Raftas. “So, I sent them a folding play tent and tunnel for them to use indoors. What fun they are having.”

Finding time for creativity means turning off the television sometimes.

“As a former news junkie,” panelist Pam Wallace said, “I have cut down on watching the news of the day. I find that it makes life a bit less stressful.”

Panelist Wanda Mercado-Arroyo said her family prays every day. “It is important to keep your soul and mind healthy during difficult times,” said Mercado-Arroyo.

Families should make time to meet and check on everyone’s physical, emotional and mental well-being, panelist Mike Daniels said.

“Acknowledging that the situation is affecting the adults’ emotional well-being can give children permission to talk about their feelings,” said Daniels.

Raftas recommended using stay-at-home time to catch up on things that are enjoyable or provide a sense of accomplishment, such as gardening or cleaning out closets.

“We are each dealing with having different frustrations over the limitations,” said Raftas, “but being home to have dinner together is even more enjoyable.”

Panelist Denise Continenza observed that “it is amazing how the chaos is making us slow down and smell the roses, or watch the birds. It may be just what we needed.

“I am able to look out my window where I sit with my computer, and watch a pair of cardinals build a nest. The circle of life continues,” said Continenza.

This week’s team of parenting experts are: Pam Wallace, program coordinator, Project Child, a program of Valley Youth House; Erin Stalsitz, Lehigh Children & Youth; Denise Continenza, extension educator; Chad Stefanyak, school counselor, Wanda Mercado-Arroyo, educator and former school administrator; Joanne Raftas, Psychotherapist, and Mike Daniels, LCSW, Psychotherapist.

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The Family Project is a collaboration of the Lehigh Valley Press Focus section and Valley Youth House’s Project Child.

The Times News, Inc., and affiliates (Lehigh Valley Press) do not endorse or recommend any medical products, processes, or services or provide medical advice. The views of the columnist and column do not necessarily state or reflect those of the Lehigh Valley Press. The article content is not intended as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician, or other qualified health-care provider, with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.